Go ahead. Have your cake and eat it too—without guilt. Baked goodies do have a place in a healthy diet. That's if you sneak in these tweaks for better-for-you treats. And no, you won't be sacrificing flavor.
1. Get stingy with sugar. Try reducing the amount of sugar in a recipe by one-quarter to one-third. Chances are, you won't notice the difference.
2. Make over muffins and quick breads. You can usually cut saturated fat and calories by trading applesauce for the oil in recipes.
3. Be fussy about flour. In most recipes you can use fiber-rich whole-wheat flour in place of all-purpose flour. You might also experiment with almond flour, which works well for crusts. It adds nutrients and a big burst of flavor.
4. Dial down dairy fat. Stick to low-fat milk, yogurt and buttermilk—not the full-fat versions. Grease pans with nonstick cooking oil, not butter. And consider swapping cream-cheese frosting, which is loaded with saturated fat and low in nutrients, for a protein-rich frosting made from Greek yogurt.
5. Add good stuff. Boost nutrients by adding shredded or pureed apples, carrots or bananas to recipes.
6. Scale back. For calorie control, keep portion sizes modest. That's easier if you cut brownies and sheet cakes, for instance, into 2-inch squares and dish out cookie dough in 1-tablespoon scoops.
Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; American Heart Association